(NC) Halloween is a sweet time of year for kids, but it can be a nightmare for health-conscious parents concerned about excess sugar leading to cavities. But Halloween tricking and treating doesn’t have to be scary with these helpful tips from the Ontario Dental Hygienists’ Association:

1. If kids have a healthy meal before they go trick-or-treating, they won’t be as tempted to eat candy along the way.

2. When they return with their goodies, sort the candy. Let them keep their favourites and get rid of the rest — hide it, throw it out or donate it.

3. Avoid the worst offenders — chewy sweets that stick to the teeth — such as molasses kisses, licorice, jujubes, and jelly beans. Lollipops are also a bad choice because they tend to linger. As the child licks away, the bacteria feed on the sugar, creating acid that leads to tooth decay and gum disease.

4. Allow children to have enough candy to satisfy their sweet tooth immediately and then ration the rest. Impose a time limit to gobble up the candy, then make sure they clean their teeth well immediately.

5. Give out “dentally correct” treats such as chips, sugarless gum and candy, or popcorn. Halloween-themed stickers, pencils, erasers, and glow sticks are even better choices.

6. Offer your kids a candy trade — swap the worst offenders or a portion of their goodies for a trip to the movies or a fun outing at the park.

7. Follow these tips yourself. The dangers of Halloween candy also apply to adults. Dental hygienists report more visits from grownups this time of year, who come in with fractured teeth and broken fillings after dipping into their kids’ loot bags.

Learn more about oral care at www.odha.on.ca.